Random Dissonance - Through the Clouds

"Part of every misery is, so to speak, the misery's shadow or reflection: the fact that you don't merely suffer but have to keep on thinking about the fact that you suffer. I not only live each endless day in grief, but live each day thinking about living each day in grief."
- C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

As I sit typing at my computer in the waning moments of this winter morning, I am enjoying brilliant sunlight and the shocking warmth of a 48 degree day.  It has been 3 weeks since the persistent clouds first cloistered the sun in their prison.  The light of the sun seems too bright for my fair eyes to withstand.  The warmth, shocking for my bare arms.  The revelations of daylight both painful and pleasurable at once.

I'm writing today from the light of day.  On the other side of dark clouds that once enshrouded my mind, my spirit, and my body.  For 18 months I was blanketed in depression, covered in shame, wrapped in fear, and lost in a fog that seemed to kidnap me from the truth that I know.  Depression stole from me the ability to connect truth and reality to spirit and mind.

It was Spring.  It was about 10AM.  The kids were already at school and I had not kissed their tender forehead or spoken words of love and affirmation to them to nourish their day.   I was cocooned in the blankets, blinds closed, pillow over my head when my bride came in to say her goodbyes as she set off on some errands for that day.  I heard the frustration in her voice as she unfolded her plans to me and ultimately asked me how long I was going to let this last.  (This was not the first morning which I had wasted, languishing in the darkness of a bedroom-turned-catacomb.) "People are asking me what's wrong with you and I don't know what to say."  She encouraged me to get some time with God while she was gone and to find someone I wanted to talk to about it.  But I followed neither of her suggestions.  Instead I embraced the fog, settled under the blankets and the clouds, and I allowed the numbness to engulf me.

There in the dark, numb fog of my soul, I thought about my despair.  I thought about it and wondered why I felt such despair.  I was angry that I was feeling it.  I was mad at myself, mad at the world, and perplexed by God.  I thought about my situation and I reasoned with myself that none of my reasons for such dark feelings were either reasonable or legitimate.  But there they were.  Then I tried to think of something else, but hidden under the camouflage of every other thought were thoughts of anxiety, darkness, dread, and despair.  They were becoming friends...  Perhaps that is not the word I wish to use of them.  Companions.  Fellows.  Always with me, they tainted every thought and activity.  They brought poison to my heart, mind, and soul.  Definitely not my friends, they remained ever with me none the less.  So I thought of how I felt, and I felt no better because of doing so.

When I finally showered and dressed that day, I made a critical decision.  I decided to not let anyone suffer with me.  I would keep my depression and anxiety to myself.  "After all, I'm a husband, father, and pastor.  People need me and I owe it to them to keep up a brave front while I work this out," I reasoned with myself under the drenching flood of the warm shower that could warm my skin but couldn't sooth my mind or my heart.  So, that was the last day I stayed in bed.  The last day I wore my dark emotions on my face.  I learned to put on my smile.  I created a new laugh.  One that was almost convincing.  I dug down deep for the words of truth that used to resonate with my mind and spirit, but that now only rung out of my memory and were spoken by shear will to do no more harm.  But of course I did do more harm...  Harm is the poisonous blossom that buds on the many branches of depression.

I am not a medical expert and have not undertaken to study all of the physiological ramifications of depression on the human mind.  I am not sure that I will even be able to illuminate any deep-reaching spiritual realities as related to depression.  But I do have a story to tell.  It is my story.  And I pray that by telling it I am able to walk more fully in the light of day, beyond the foggy veil of depression's dark clouds.  I pray that by reading it others may come closer to the break of day in their own struggle.  I pray that God will smile on us from His unbridled pleasure with the truth.  I pray that we will feel His smile and be warmed and renewed by His delight.


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